Answer: William Howard Taft

Taft long coveted a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court and had little desire for elective office. Yet, he’d become president of the United States before achieving his goal of leading the highest court. Taft served as solicitor general of the United States before being appointed as secretary of war (now Secretary of Defense) under President Theodore Roosevelt. Taft then ran for the presidency and won, succeeding Roosevelt in 1909. He lost reelection in 1912 and returned to teach law at Yale. Taft, who also previously served as a federal circuit court judge, was appointed to the Supreme Court as chief justice in 1921. He served the court until his death in 1930. His accomplishments included making the court’s docket discretionary—a case would get full consideration by the justices only if they granted a writ of certiorari. Remembered as the heaviest president (354 pounds at inauguration), he began walking three miles from Capitol Hill to his home each day while on the Supreme Court.